Home Authors Posts by William Powell
Thanks to a recent change in Ohio law, tap rooms have arrived in the Queen City. The concept is simple: Production breweries install a bar, a few stools, and some taps; a bearded guy explains the complex flavors of the latest seasonal brew; and craft beer lovers congregate to imbibe and bask in the sweet smell of hops and yeast. What are you waiting for?
William R. Smith, a 61-year-old truck driver who goes by the nickname Butch, sits at a patio table in front of the aging, tin-roofed farm house in rural Pike County where he lives with his mother. It’s a warm, sunny afternoon, and the sounds of buzzing bugs and chirping birds fill the midsummer air. Compared to the rusting trailers that dot this economically stunted region two hours east of Cincinnati, Smith’s home is a palace, full of photos, knickknacks, plants, and wood paneling.
Sports seasons are often compared to roller coasters. Overcome a few injuries, make a big trade, endure a controversy or two, or finish in first place after starting out in last, and a sportswriter or two will surely invoke the tired cliché. It will be followed by a quote from the manager or star player saying, “This year has been full of ups and downs, wins and losses, peaks and valleys.” The same analogy is sometimes used to describe a particularly topsy-turvy game. Get an early lead, then fall behind, then come back to win. You have earned a roller coaster victory. Do it in the Super Bowl, and they’ll actually send you to Disney.
You might have noticed: The Reds are on a roll. They’ve won six in a row and now lead the Central Division by four games over the Pirates and five games over the Cardinals, last year’s World Series champions. And the key to that success has been, somewhat surprisingly, the team’s young pitching staff.
The Setup: Last night, the Reds and Pirates played a thrilling baseball game. Pittsburgh kept going up by one, and Cincinnati kept coming back to tie it. In the bottom of the ninth, with the Pirates up 4-3, Ryan Ludwick hit a solo homer (his second of the game) off Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan to send the game into extra innings. Then in the top of the tenth, Aroldis Chapman did something he hadn’t done all year: give up an earned run. He was done in by the unlikely duo of Clint Barmes and Michael McKenry, who led off the inning with back-to-back doubles. Pirates lead 5-4.